United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Details needed over UK's onshore wind reprieve

The UK government’s effective ban on the development of onshore wind was impossible to reconcile with a target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Fancy slogan -- the wind industry awaits (pic: Number 10)
Fancy slogan -- the wind industry awaits (pic: Number 10)

It was hardly a good look for a country — with the best wind resources in Europe, remember — preparing to host the COP26 climate change summit in November.

And it made no economic sense either, with new onshore wind comfortably undercutting projected wholesale prices.

So the announcement on 2 March that onshore wind (and solar PV) would become eligible to compete in future Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions did not come entirely out of the blue. 

But the celebrations will have to remain on hold until we know a great deal more about what Boris Johnson’s administration is planning.

At the moment, we’re only at the stage of a consultation document that proposes a new energy auction in 2021 for which onshore wind would be able to compete. 

We don’t know the size of the budget, the terms of competition with other renewable sources, or whether further auctions are planned.

The consultation document also has nothing to say either on lifting the tip height restriction guidelines for permitting authorities, currently set at only 125 metres. 

Unless this issue is addressed, developers will not be able to access the industry’s best technology, reducing onshore wind’s price competitiveness. 

The devil lies in the details, and we won’t have them until after the consultation closes on 22 May. Two cheers for now, we’ll save the third for later.

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